By: Ellen Zoe Photos by Teresa Okeki
Recently La Nacion named Playa Punta el Madero, the beach between Tamarindo and Langosta as one of the cleanest waterside spots in the country.
They were citing the achievement of the area’s Blue Flag certification. You would have to credit Jose Santos Centeno Rangel with a big part in earning that distinction, as the 48-year-old man has been cleaning the beaches of our area as well as the streets for almost 20 years.
Best known as “Rorro”, the Guanacasteco spent some time in Limon planting bananas, before a lack of work brought him back to this province and Villareal. The ProMejores, which preceded the Asociacion Desarollo Integral de Tamarindo (ADI) set Rorro to work and he never looked back.
Today his salary is paid partially by ADI and Surfrider Foundation Tamarindo Chapter, which come from fundraising and donations from the community that Rorro serves THE Tamarindo News spoke with Rorro during a rare break from cleaning up the roadside of Tamarindo one morning.
THE Tamarindo News: Tell me a little bit about how you came to be the person who cleans up Tamarindo?
Rorro: I am called, Rorro, it’s a nickname from since I was a child. It came from a novella on the radio. I’m from Nicoya, and I’m puro Gallo Pinto. When there were no jobs in Nicoya, I went to Limon to plant bananas, but eventually we were liquidated, and there was no more work there. I had friends in La Garita who told me that Villareal was the place to be. So in 1995, I moved to that beautiful town and started working in construction for Russell (Wenrich) from the Tamarindo Resort. I also fished. My friend Dimitri Reese from Villareal was working for the ProMejoras, the old community group for Tamarindo. He was in charge of the maintenance and cleanup of the beach at the time. I was living in the house of Dimitri’s mother, and one day he said, “Please help me” because sometimes he needed two people for the cleanup. I just stayed.
TNN: What does your work entail?
R: The beach is very big. I work from the Tamarindo Estuary to the Langosta Estuary and also the street all in each day. I usually start at 5:30 a.m., but Monday Wednesday and Saturday the Muni comes to look for the garbage and what I have collected. They don’t have a schedule, and sometimes they show up at 4 a.m., so I have to get the garbage together earlier and sometimes I miss them. I get the bags from ADI and then some people also donate them like Kathy Doshack and Steve Capullo. I fill 12 to 15 garden size bags per day with garbage. This past Christmas and New Year’s, between December 25 to January 5, I filled 150 garden bags with the garbage of the people.
TNN: Why do people leave so much garbage?
R: There are people without awareness. People don’t value that the beach is clean and they take for granted that someone will do it. Although people see the beach is clean, they don’t take into consideration that 365 days a year someone is cleaning. When I’m off, my sister-in-law does it for me. Howeer, I love the my job 150% and have been doing this for 22 years. I love the beach and my work.
TNN: You are truly a worker for the community, right?
R: Before there were problems getting paid. Now I get money from ADI and Surfrider Foundation. It’s good now, but there were times in the past where I had to wait two months to be paid because my salary comes from donations. Now it’s good, thank God.
TNN: What is the most unusual thing you found on the beach?
R: A kilo of cocaine in 2008. The first thing I thought of when I found it were my kids in school or in my house. I have 4 kids and 2 grandsons who are all healthy. I just dumped the cocaine in the estuary because of my kids. I thought, if I sell it, one day this will come back to the friends of my kids and there will be no salvation for them. I don’t like drugs and what they do to people.
TNN: What would you like to tell our community? R: I want people to be aware of their garbage, especially those businesses that work at night like parties and bars. They need to clean in front of their businesses. That is where I find the most garbage, as if someone from heaven is going to clean it up. Doing their business at night, they don’t realize how dirty the beach becomes from that. Also, I want people everywhere to only take their garbage out to the street on the days when Muni is coming, otherwise, it just makes a mess. People think, “I pay taxes, I don’t need to clean.” But the garbage truck doesn’t come every day and the Muni doesn’t clean anything, they just come and look for the bags, and it’s up to me to clean everything. Also, there is a problem with the horses on the beach with their poop. I worked with ProMejores for seven years to take the horses off the beach, but it was, and is, very difficult to make happen.
TNN: How can people help you with your job of cleaning the town?
R: I want to thank ProMejores, and now ADI, and the Surfrider people for their help from my heart. People can make donations. (http://playatamarindo. org/haga-su-donacion/ make sure to mark Beach Cleanup in the reference)